Sri Radha Rani is a well-known deity in the ancient culture of India. This is attributed to the goddess Shakuntala, who is worshiped by the people of the Tamil Nadu state as their supreme deity. She is believed to be the consort of Lord Krishna and he is often shown as a handsome young man with a large beard, wearing a turban and carrying a sword in his right hand. The devotees of this particular deity also say that he has a daughter named Kasyani and three sons named Sundareswar, Ram, and Kanchal.
There is much speculation regarding the actual birth story of Radha and how she came to be the personification of Lord Krishna. It is believed that she was the daughter of a sage and that she was married to an ascetic named Swarjika. He had a profound desire to know about Lord Krishna’s birth story and so he went ahead and wrote a lengthy account of the same in the form of an epic. This was known as the Katha Upanishad and is one of the two foremost stars that form the core of the Santric religion. The other extra is the Charaka Upanishad.
Most of the mythological stories surrounding Radha Rani and Sakhis are also related to her relationship with Lord Krishna. It is said that once while she was pregnant, the king of Kashi came to her house and announced that he was her husband. She then went to a nearby temple where the deities, including Lord Krishna himself, performed some kind of Brahma Yatra. This initiated Rani with the concept of learning about the ways of the lord and she started performing his desires.
One of the main themes in the Katha Upanishad is the incident where Srimad Bhagavatam states that Lord Krishna performed anusukkum. This is when Srimad Bhagavatam found his partner in the kingdom of Karva (Kashmir). He went to the house of Radha and performed anusukkum for her. The next day, when he went to Lord Krishna, he was welcomed by the sage pranayama. He was instructed to go forth and establish the kingdom of Karva.
In another version of the legend, Radha and Srimad were playing in a park near their house when they were interrupted by a cowherd. They were told that there was an elephant hunter waiting outside. The cowherd warned them not to go near the spot where the bull was resting, as that calf was going to be eaten alive by some deer. This account is similar to the story told about Bhajans and the episode in Katha Upanishad.
The story in Katha Upanishad also mentions that Lord Krishna used the anusukkum ritual to turn the bullock into a nikunj (donor). This is believed to be related to the story in the ‘Purana’ of Lord Krishna regarding turning the demon Vaitarani into a nikunj. The story further describes how the Bullock gave birth to the nikunj named Nandimukha. It is interesting to note that the exact pronunciation of the word ‘nikunj’ differs in a few places. However, most references point towards ‘as being the common variation.
There are many references to Lord Krishna being associated with Srimad Bhajan’s teachings. For example, the famous dhyaniya mantra ‘Bhasma’; the second dhyaniya mantra being ‘Rasnadi’; and the fifth dhyaniya mantra being ‘Svatantrana’. Most references to Rasnadiya-Vaitarani mention ‘Rasya’ as being the feminine name of Lord Krishna. However, it should be noted that both ‘Ras’ and ‘Svatantrana’ are masculine titles. It is widely accepted that Rasnu is the proper name of the Supreme Lord Krishna. Similarly, Srimad Bhajan’s reference to ‘Sakarami’ in his commentary on Jain tantric texts refers to the tantric teacher in question.
Finally, the above references do not support the view that Sri Radha Rani and Sakhis are the same entity. Rather, they are different manifestations of the same supreme reality. Moreover, even if one were to reduce all references to the goddess to a single line, ‘Sri Radha Rani’ would still not fully explain the meaning of the term. Even the term ‘Sri Radha Rani’ has multiple meanings in various scriptures. This being the case, one is best advised not to use the term ‘Sri Radha Rani’ without knowing exactly what the intended meaning is.